Georgiana Rutherford, the widowed Duchess of Hardcastle, longs for a passionate affair. And when the enigmatic and ruthless Mr. Rhys Tremayne, better known to most as the Broker, crosses her path, the attraction between them is undeniable. But she cannot possibly truly feel this way for this man.
Rhys Tremayne has built his wealth and empire on secrets dealt on the black market of the London underworld. He is determined to remove his sisters from the depraved world they
Read an Excerpt
Rhys Tremayne had been summoned by the Duchess of Hardcastle. Even more shocking than a lady of such elevated stature demanding he attend a fashionable ball was the fact that he had responded to the vague but vastly intriguing invitation. The letter, which had been delivered to him, had gone through clandestine channels only those with links to the dark and secretive underworld of London possessed. It had been presented to him upon a silver salver as he had gambled at The Asylum, one of the most profligate and powerful gaming hells known to London society, owned and operated by his closest and most trusted friend, Riordan O'Malley.
Dear Mr. Tremayne,
I have a business proposal for you. You are to meet me in several hours' time in the gardens at Lady Tunstall's ball at midnight. Enclosed is an invitation to the ball.
Duchess of Hardcastle
The note was succinct, written in a bold yet elegant scrawl, and had been infused with the power and privilege of the duchess's position. What could she want? He assumed she required his ability as The Broker. There could be no other reason for her imperious demand.
For years, Rhys had studied the men and women of England, high and lowborn, and their secrets had been collected with great diligence, cataloged and ranked regarding their bargaining power, and made ready for use when it suited Rhys or another client with whom he traded. Perhaps she needed to topple someone and required the right secret and scandal to see it done. One thing he had learned about polite society was that they were really not polite. They were quite an uncompromising bunch, protected by their positions and rank of privilege. Despite all his ruthless wrangling and manipulations as he traded in the black market of information and secrets, he'd never worked with someone of such estimable connections. Even the work he did for the crown in the past had been through an anonymous connection.
The duchess was a woman he could use. His heart kicked at the challenge and the danger of having such an influential force be beholden to him. He tipped his head back in his chair and held the invitation up and simply stared at it.
What are your secrets?
Who are you?
It was clear to him the lady did not anticipate his refusal. She expected to be obeyed. Rhys's interest stirred, and primal satisfaction slithered through him. He'd found the door to the world he had been relentlessly working to pry open, with astonishingly little effort on his part. Or perhaps not, since the last twenty years had all been about reaching this point.
Not many realized how impossible it was to infiltrate high society. He'd cultivated wealth — trading in secrets and strengthening the merchant connections he'd grown into with more dangerous business and alliances. Yet each time he had collected a favor and came closer to the elite circle of the ton, something had snatched the opportunity from him and he had retired back to the shadows, waiting and watching.
He had no notion what the duchess required, but he would not stop until he had her so enmeshed she would have to dole out to him an unmatched favor.
The soft closing of the door had him glancing up from the letter. His sister Lydia strolled into the library. She lifted her chin to the letter, and then her fingers leaped to life, speaking for her.
"Will you attend the ball?" she signed.
He'd, of course, shared the content of the letter with his sisters after he had scrutinized it at least a dozen times. Though Lydia was growing more adept at reading lips, he lowered the letter to the desk and signed, "Yes, I will answer her summons. This is the opportunity we have been waiting for."
Doubt clouded her gaze, and a faraway look appeared in her light-gray eyes. "Nothing will make them accept me ... accept us."
A hard smile tipped his lips. "Let me take care of the details. I urge you not to worry."
"Our family is my worry, as well, dear brother. When will you let us take some of the burden of reclaiming our place in society?"
He stood and strolled over to her. "Never."
She rolled her eyes in the most unladylike fashion. "We are playing charades in the parlor. Join us and promise to be on my team, but please do not tell our sisters," she signed with a cheeky grin.
Despite the blow she had been given in life, Lydia was filled with such humor and good cheer. She had never once blamed him for her deafness, but it was his lack that had caused her pain. The fever that had almost taken her life and had robbed her of hearing was probably because they'd been living in such squalor and despair.
As the eldest of his three sisters at three-and-twenty, Lydia was as savvy as any criminal in London. To marry and have children was a dream she kept locked in her heart, believing no gentleman would want her with her past and imperfection. Lydia was beautiful, with her short, dark curls, eyes as gray as a storm, and exquisite smile. She was also kind and intelligent, but none of that would matter to a beau, for she was handicapped and her background tarnished.
Rhys wanted her away from this life. He wanted her to be part of the world she had been born to, but that had been snatched away from her because of greed and malice.
The ton was a world of glamorous elegance and lavish extravagance, but behind its fickleness also rested a security that he wanted for his sisters. He wanted them to have a place of safety that would be certain and that could not be wrested away. He'd promised them he wouldn't stop until their lives were better. Their proper place in this world had been denied to his mother and sisters. Instead of a comfortable home with servants, a season when they came of age, a suitable gentleman for a husband, his sisters had been reared in the stews, the gutter, and amongst the lowest people of the slums for years. He would do everything to ensure respectability was theirs again. That way, if he were to fall, he would rest easy knowing his sisters were secure.
His sister trained her gaze to his lips.
"I'll not join you today. I leave shortly to see Her Grace," Rhys said.
Lydia grinned, no doubt pleased he'd gotten the honorific correct. Their mother had encouraged them to study the peerage and polite society rules and etiquette years ago.
"Try not to be too intimidating."
"I'll be the soul of politeness. She'll think me a gentleman of her world."
Lydia snorted and looped her hands through his as they exited the library.
He escorted her to the parlor and bid his sisters farewell. Less than thirty minutes later, he arrived in front of the address provided, a few hours earlier than his requested time. He was aware the duchess expected him to honor the time she had laid down. It was the gentlemanly thing to do, but then he had never been a proper gentleman despite his promise to Lydia. Rhys liked to see people in their element before they put on their mask and hid their true selves. He had learned early not to accept people at face value and instead to trust in their unguarded responses.
What would the duchess be like without her armor? His unexpected arrival would only give him a small peek, but it would be enough for him to glean the manner of lady he dealt with.
There were several carriages queuing. Another carriage drawing away as one pulled up. A few elegant lords and ladies heading for the receiving line threw him curious glances. Somehow, they always knew he didn't belong, even though his manner of dress was just as impeccable, though, he reluctantly admitted, less dandified than many. It was as if he straddled the edge of both worlds, a misconception, really, for he was so far removed from the ton, he would never be able to move in their circles, nor did he truly crave to. But his sisters ... now that was another matter. No longer would he allow them to bleed or scrabble as he had done to find their place in the world.
And how fortuitous it was that a duchess had placed herself within his reach. Rhys prowled through the stately gardens, careful to keep himself cloaked within the shadows. Merriment spilled forth on the air. He slipped through the small wrought-iron gate that served as the entrance to a hidden alcove. With measured steps and a watchful eye upon his surroundings, he blended with the night, trying to ascertain if one of these ladies was the duchess. After several moments of observing the outside guests, he strolled to the front door and joined the receiving line.
This was the butler, if he had not been misinformed by his mother's tutelage. Rhys handed him the invitation.
The butler's brow furrowed. "Your name."
Rhys smiled. He hadn't missed the fact that his name had not been on the invitation. The duchess wanted a careful measure of secrecy. "An announcement is not necessary," he said.
The butler considered him, and then the invitation once more, before stepping back. He was admitted, his coat and top hat collected. Men and women in elegant apparel crowded the hall, and Rhys could hear the strains of music from the ballroom. Several threw him assessing glances but quickly shifted their regard away. Rhys strolled unhurriedly through the hallway and headed for the ballroom.
Why demand a meeting here?
Are you afraid? Was it that the lady would feel safer within a crowd? Rhys turned left down the large yet elegantly appointed hallway before coming upon a wide-open door leading to a ballroom. He stood in the shadows by a Corinthian column, observing the crowd with utmost discretion. Life and laughter pulsed around him. Ladies and gentlemen twirled across the ballroom, glittering in their fineries. The undercurrent of unbridled excitement and expectant conquest shimmered in the air, but as always, he was untouched, removed from the false high of pleasure, his thoughts ruthlessly concentrated on his purpose.
A flash of green snagged his attention. A vision of loveliness sauntered along the sidelines of the massive ballroom. Sweet Christ. She looked so breathtakingly vivid. The lady was in possession of a glorious mane of blue-black hair, which was parted in the center and twisted into a smooth coil at the nape of her neck. Her dark-green gown was cut low for a society lady, revealing the swell of her breasts. He tried to wrest his gaze away. He couldn't afford a distraction tonight ... though she was such a bloody beautiful and provocative one.
He moved closer, inexplicably drawn to the beguiling clash of latent sensuality and aloofness she exuded despite standing amid a sea of people. Her face encouraged study.
The slight smile that hovered on her lips seemed ... sad and hauntingly lovely. Several gentlemen tried to capture her attention, but she only gave them that mysteriously vacant smile. She took a glass of champagne from a footman, politely thanking him, her gaze scanning the crowd. His mind ran through all the ways he could assuage her loneliness, the pleasures with which he could shock her ladylike sensibilities. But he was there on business and indulging in such fantasies was pointless — it would require too much effort to merely gain an opportunity to seduce a lady of the ton.
After several moments, he withdrew and padded along the corridor, checking each room until he located what seemed to be a library. He walked over to the desk, selected a piece of paper, and scribbled a quick note. Then he went outside and slipped the note and half a guinea to a footman.
"Locate the Duchess of Hardcastle and deliver this," he murmured.
The man's gaze flickered to his, but Rhys's face was obscured in the shadows, a deliberate movement so the man could not give a description.
"Yes ... my lord ... sir," the footman replied and hurried away.
Rhys waited in the darkness, tracking the man's progress.
Rhys frowned as the footman hovered behind the lonely beauty from earlier as if waiting for an opportunity to interrupt. He pressed closer and faltered. For some reason, he'd expected someone ... more ... well, someone old. Surely this young girl, who barely appeared as if she had left the schoolroom, couldn't be the duchess?
Perhaps it was the lady's companion to whom the footman would hand his note. Shrugging away his unexpected attraction, he did not wait for the footman to find his courage and interrupt the laughing ladies. Rhys simply stole away outdoors, waiting for the duchess to slink into his web.
Loneliness had a taste — ashes. Georgiana Elizabeth Rutherford, the Duchess of Hardcastle, knew, for once as a willful child she had taken some cinder from the fireplace and tasted. She had spluttered, wiped at her lips and tongue with vigor, and had been unable to remove the unpleasant taste. That flavor coated her senses now and was accompanied by an empty feeling that seeped into her heart and sank deep into her bones. Perhaps she should forgo yet another season and retire to Kent, where her son, Nicolas George Rutherford, the very young Duke of Hardcastle, eagerly awaited her return. Instead of indulging in the lavish extravagance of yet another season, perhaps she would simply return to Meadowbrook Park as soon as she had successfully initiated a credible investigation into the mysterious disappearance of Miss Jane Walker, a young nursemaid who had gone missing from their country home.
Or she could walk the edge of reason that had pushed her to dress in her most provocative and scandalous gown tonight. Assuage the yawning emptiness and unfulfilled feeling with a lover.
Her dear friend, Daphne, Countess of Clarendon, looped their hands together as they strolled along the edge of the ballroom.
"You look quite delightful this evening, Georgiana," Daphne said, giving a suggestive wink. "Dare I ask if this means you are taking my advice to secure yourself another husband?"
"Something more wicked, I fear," Georgiana drawled teasingly.
A lover. To be touched, held, kissed. As if controlled by another, her fingers fluttered to her lips and pressed. As a widow of six- and-twenty, with considerable wealth and influence, it was well within her rights to select a lover from the gentlemen of society. "Delightfully wicked."
Daphne's eyes widened knowingly. After all, they'd discussed the merits of widowhood several days ago as they'd strolled through Hyde Park, namely the freedom to select a gentleman of the ton to indulge in illicit pleasures with.
"You deserve some happiness," her friend said softly as they wove through the throng. "Though your mother will not be happy until you are securely wed again. That has been her goal since you came out of mourning."
Georgiana was quite aware of the desires of her mother. She had married a duke and birthed another duke. The expectation was that she remarry someone of similar stature and with even more wealth than she currently controlled, but she was no longer a silly girl to be dictated to as had been done years past. She'd known from the tender age of twelve her duty was to be the wife of the Duke of Hardcastle, who had been old enough to be her father. She had married him at the age of sixteen when he had been forty-two, but that hadn't mattered to her family. Power and connections had been consolidated with their alliance, and the families' combined prestige had soared.
She had been groomed relentlessly on her role as a future duchess. Her family had expected no less of her, and soon Georgiana had possessed the same expectations and had dedicated herself to her studies with an intensity that had impressed even Hardcastle. She had eschewed playing and had spent most of her time with her nursemaid and tutors. Even taking time with the stewards of his estates to learn everything there was to know about how to run a dukedom. Instead of poring over fashion plates and scandal sheets, she had consumed agricultural tomes and political newspapers, following the wars and the debates argued in parliament as she tried to form her own opinions.
Instead of being repulsed by her intelligence as her mother had warned, he had been duly impressed. Hardcastle had been a kind man, with a deep- rooted sense of justice, and she had been a good duchess to him. He had been gone now for five years, and she desperately missed intimacy, even if theirs had been so intermittent.
"Have you made the list we discussed?" Daphne asked, jarring Georgiana from her ruminations.
"No, I find myself unwilling. To list the eligible men of the ton, and their attributes and connections, makes me feel as if I am selecting a stud horse."
"My dear, that is the best way to get it done. There are simply too many suitable options. What of Lord Cole? According to Lady Bristol, he is a fine lover indeed."
Georgiana's eyes cut to the dashing viscount chatting a few paces away. Curious, she steered Daphne in his direction. He snapped to attention when he spied them, admiration glowing in the gaze that settled upon her.
"Your Grace," he said with a deep bow, his voice warm and inviting. "What an unmatched pleasure to see you tonight."
Excerpted from "Duchess by Day, Mistress by Night"
Copyright © 2017 Stacy Reid.
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
Fabulous read. Loved the story involving Rhye's and Georginna's struggling relationship.
My new favorite novel, will definitely be reading this novel again in the future.
Couldnt put it down. Loved it
This book had unusual character and plot elements and an interesting, lively plot. You will love it.
Stacy Reid is on auto buy for me and this book proves why!
To outsiders it may look like Georgiana, the Duchess of Hardcastle has everything anyone could want but she wants more, a passionate affair. Rhys, the broker deals in secrets and wants to see his sisters lives improved but he wants more than Georgiana to help his sisters. Will she agree? Plenty of drama, the story is entertaining and I loved the chemistry a steamy and entertaining historical read. I really liked it.
Duchess by Day, Mistress by Night by Stacy Reid is the First book in the New Series called, "Rebellious Desires". This is the story of Georgiana Rutherford, the Duchess of Hardcastle and Mr. Rhys Tremayne 'Broker'. Georgiana married Hardcastle when she was just 16 years old and he was 42. They had a son named Nicholas but then Hardcastle died about 5 years ago leaving Georgiana a widow. But Georgiana was popular with the town but lacked passion in her life. Now Georgiana young son Nurse Maid, Jane Walker has disappeared and since the Bow Street Runners hasn't found anything out nor is her brother Simon taking it seriously, Georgiana thinks to see if the 'Broker' can help. Rhys is called the Broker and works hard for him and his family to get ahead since they didn't have the 'Towns' life as a genteel family. Their life style also effected his sister Lydia by having her come down with a fever that left her deaf. Rhys greatest wish is for his sister's to be settled within the town to good husbands. But that hasn't been a possibility so far but now that the Duchess is asking for his help maybe he can strike a bargain to have Georgiana bring his sister out to the Town. But Rhys doesn't expect Georgiana to be so young and attractive, nor does Georgiana except to be so attracted to Rhys. I must say that I am a big Fan of Ms. Reid's writing and I try to grab her books up as soon as I see one. This newest story from Ms. Reid did not disappoint at all! Loved it!!
Giorgiana Rutherford, Duchess of Hardcastle, is desperately seeking help in locating her son’s missing nursemaid. She will do anything to find answers to her questions. When she meets Rhys Tremayne and enters into an agreement for his services, she is all too aware that the cost may be a high one. But there is a small, lonely part of her that longs to pay whatever that price may be. Rhys, better known as The Broker in the underground world he moves in, is immediately taken with the beautiful woman he spies at a ball. When he discovers she is the person seeking his services he is all too willing to assist her. However, once he uncovers the information she desires he surprises her when he tells her the cost. This couple, two individuals who long for more but are unaware how or even if they will ever find it, have instant chemistry. Their story flowed organically, each scenario being the only thing that could possibly happen. I was impressed with Rhys’ honor and strength when it came to those he loved. While I did get a bit aggravated at Giorgiana’s continued pushing away due to her social status, she was an independent woman who had found her place at a time when women were nothing more than a bargaining chip. A lifetime of being groomed for her role seemed to be a part of her very DNA. I really enjoyed this book and especially Rhys and his dark ways. It is a fast paced read with awesome secondary characters that I hope will receive their own stories. Ms. Reid has a way of spinning her tales that pull you in and keep you engaged. This is an honest review of an advanced copy provided by NetGalley and Entangled Publishing. Dual POV Safe No apparent triggers
I absolutely LOVED this story and couldn't put it down! Georgiana was not your typical member of the ton and I loved her all the more for it. After living such a rigid life for many years, she was ready to break out of her shell live the life that she wanted. I really liked Rhys too. He is your typical bad boy on the outside, but when we get to know him we see that he has a heart of gold! Run out and buy this NOW!! You won't be disappointed. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!
Duchess by Day, Mistress by Night by Stacy Reid Rebellious Desires #1 Rebellious indeed – I would be, too, if I were Georgiana Elizabeth Rutherford, Dower Duchess of Hardcastle! I mean, being groomed from childhood to be married to a person with position and pedigree to further family prestige whether or not love is involved and then knowing so early who your ancient husband will be and studying hard to be a good duchess could not have been easy. That said - Georgiana was impeccable in person with purpose aplenty. Widowed young with a son who will one day be Duke she is focused on her duty as mother and more BUT she is missing something…and…that something just may be a lover – or so say her family and friends. When a woman working in Georgiana’s employ goes missing she is advised to bring in The Broker, Rhys Tremayne, to find the woman. Little does she realize that meeting this man will change her life forever. Rhys deals in secrets, brokers deals, barters one secret for another and does most of this to help elevate his mother and three sisters from a past that none of them deserved. His service to Georgiana might provide a toehold toward his goals for his family’s elevation in status, or perhaps not, whatever happens in the future his life will be changed forever, too. I really liked Rhys and his love of family. He is an honorable man with tentacles throughout all levels of society. He is a mongrel and considered common but he is also oh so caring, he is able to mingle with the ton or hold his own with louts, he is a man women eye, he is a man that men admire and also sometimes fear. He is a man well worth knowing and Georgiana ends up knowing him very well indeed. When another situation arises that requires The Broker’s assistance Georgiana finds herself feeling indebted but also afire with desires she decides to quench and thus ensues a torrid time for the two of them. Yes, she has to deal with the matter of station and he does, too, but ultimately can they overcome the levels in society they are positioned in to become more than just passing souls enjoying an affair for a time…or not… This is my first book by this author and I am intrigued. I am eager to find out who will star next in this series. Will it by Rhys’s sister Lydia? Will it be Rhys’s friend Riordan O’Malley? Will it be Simon – the brother of Georgiana? Just who will it be? I am eager to find out – that is for sure! Thank you to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing LLC for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4.5 Stars
What does a woman who has it all need? A passionate man who can warm her heart. Such is Georgiana Rutherford, the Duchess of Hardcastle, who is held in high esteem by the ton and is lacking nothing monetarily. In walks Rhys Tremayne (don't you just love that name?), a most handsome man who does not have a pedigree, but has worked hard to build his wealth and station. Determined to take care of his sisters and have them become accepted in society, he finds Georgiana to be the perfect solution to his dilemma. She could sponsor them and help them make a good match with her connections. The explosion of feelings between the two cannot be denied, but she resists as hard as she can. The author brings the characters to life with vivid descriptions and great dialogue. The story is intriguing and emotional at times but very exciting making me turn the pages to see what will happen next. This is a wonderful journey from beginning to end and you will be glad to took the time to read. I know I will be reading every book by this author!