The Duke (Knight Miscellany Series #1)

The Duke (Knight Miscellany Series #1)

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Overview

In this dazzling first novel featuring the Knight family, bestselling author Gaelen Foley writes an elegant, emotional story that touches the heart and soul.

Driven to uncover the truth about the mysterious death of his ladylove, the Duke of Hawkscliffe will go to any lengths to unmask a murderer. Even if it means jeopardizing his reputation by engaging in a scandalous affair with London's most provocative courtesan—the desirable but aloof Belinda Hamilton.

Bel has used her intelligence and wit to charm the city's titled gentlemen, while struggling to put the pieces of her life back together. She needs a protector, so she accepts Hawk's invitation to become his mistress in name only. He asks nothing of her body, but seeks her help in snaring the same man who shattered her virtue. Together they tempt the unforgiving wrath of society—until their risky charade turns into a dangerous attraction, and Bel must make a devastating decision that could ruin her last chance at love. . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449006368
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/2000
Series: Knight Miscellany Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 260,577
Product dimensions: 4.17(w) x 6.88(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

"Romance is the literature of possibility," states award-winning author Gaelen Foley. "Romance celebrates the richness and beauty of living and reaffirms the eternal truth that love is the glue that holds the universe together. And, of course, it's wicked fun!"

After earning her B.A. in literature from the State University of New York at Fredonia, Gaelen moonlighted as a waitress for nearly five years while devoting her daylight hours to honing her craft. Her first book, The Pirate Prince, won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best First Historical Romance, and was nominated for the Holt Medallion for Best First Book. She is also the author of Princess and Prince Charming.

Read an Excerpt

London, 1814

Many years ago, as a curly-headed youth on grand tour,
he had fallen madly in love with beauty and so had stopped in Florence to take drafting lessons from a bonafide Italian master. Starry-eyed and romantical, he had followed the light-winged muses south to the Bay of Sorrento, where he had first heard the ancient Italian proverb "Revenge is a dish best served cold." He was an old man now, without illusions,
cold and canny as a scheming pope. Beauty had betrayed him, but decades later, oddly enough, here on this gray English day, the Sicilian proverb held true.

A neat, slight-framed man, James Breckinridge, the earl of Coldfell, gripped the ivory head of his walking stick in gnarled fingers that ached with the needling April rain. He permitted his footman to assist him down from his luxurious black town coach while another held an umbrella over him.

The slumbrous quiet in this place was like a church, but for the pattering of the rain. He turned slowly, looked past the servants' blanked faces, past the jagged wrought-iron fence, into St. George's Burying Ground on the Uxbridge
Road, just north of Hyde Park. Three weeks ago, he had buried his young bride here. Under a chilly gray drizzle,
where the hill curved green, her marble monument rose like an angry needle to the smoke-colored sky. Beneath it,
just where Coldfell had expected to find him, stood the tall, powerful, brooding silhouette of a man; wind-blown and lost, the wide shoulders slumped as the gusty rain blew his black greatcoat around him.

Hawkscliffe.

Coldfell's mouth flattened into a thin line. He took the umbrella from the footman. "I shan't be long."

"Yes, my lord."

Leaning on his walking stick, he began the slow ascent up the graveled path.

The thirty-five-year-old Robert Knight, ninth duke of
Hawkscliffe, appeared unaware of his approach, stony and immobile as the monument. He stood in bleak granite stillness,
the rain plastering his wavy black hair to his forehead,
running in chilly rivulets down the stark planes of his cheeks,
and dripping off his rugged profile as he stared down at the yellow daffodils that had been planted on her grave.

Coldfell winced at the ungentlemanly intrusion he was about to make on the other man's grief. Hawkscliffe was,
after all, the only one of the younger generation he respected.
Some of the old-school pigtail Tories found the young magnate's views alarmingly Whiggish, but none could deny that Hawkscliffe was twice the man his weak-willed father had been.

Why, Coldfell reflected as he hobbled up the path, he had seen Robert become a duke at the age of seventeen,
managing three vast estates and raising four wild younger brothers and a little sister practically single-handedly.
More recently, he had heard him deliver speeches in the
Lords with a cool force and eloquence that had brought the whole house to its feet. Hawkscliffe's integrity was unquestioned;
his honor rang true as a bell of finest sterling.

Many of the younger set, like Coldfell's own idiot nephew and heir, Sir Dolph Breckinridge, considered the so-called paragon duke a rigid high stickler, but to wiser heads,
Hawkscliffe was, in a word, impeccable.

It was pitiful to see what Lucy's death had done to him.
Ah, well. Men would see in a woman what they wanted to see.

Coldfell cleared his throat. Startled, Hawkscliffe jerked at the noise and spun around. Tumultuous emotion blazed in his dark eyes. Seeing Coldfell, his dazed expression of pain took on a stab of guilt. With his honorable nature, it had no doubt tormented the duke to have wanted an old friend's wife. Himself, he had never been that chivalrous.
James nodded to him. "Hawkscliffe."

"Beg your pardon, my lord, I was just leaving," he mumbled, lowering his head.

"Stay, Your Grace, by all means," Coldfell answered,
waving off the awkwardness. "Keep an old man company on this dreary day."

"As you wish, sir." Narrowing his eyes against the rain,
Hawkscliffe looked away uncomfortably, surveying the jagged horizon of tombstones.

Coldfell hobbled to the brim of the grave, cursing his aching joints. When the weather was fine, he could hunt all day without tiring. But he had not been energetic enough for Lucy, had he?

Well, she had had her fashionable London burial, just as she would have liked. Having died at his house just outside
London, she had a spot in the most exclusive cemetery in the city, complete with a Flaxman funerary monument, the height of good taste, sparing no expense. And well he should have to pay for this most expensive mistake—an old man's folly, he thought bitterly. Beauty indeed was his weakness.
With nothing to recommend her but a magnificent mane of flame-colored hair and the most luscious thighs in Christendom,
the twenty-six-year-old Lucy O'Malley had been an artist's model in Sheffield before she had bewitched him into making her his second countess. He had sworn her to keep quiet about her background, devising a false one for her. At least she had given that pledge sincerely, eager as she had been to join the ton.

Coldfell was merely glad he had not been forced to bury
Lucy next to Margaret, his first wife, who was reverently enshrined at Seven Oaks, the ancestral pile in Leicestershire.
Ah, wise Margaret, his heart's mate, whose only fault had been her failure to give him a son.

"I am—very sorry for your loss, my lord," Hawkscliffe said stiffly, avoiding his gaze.

Coldfell slid a furtive glance at the duke, then sighed,
nodding. "It's hard to believe she's really gone. So young.
So full of life."

"What will you do now?"

"I leave for Leicestershire tomorrow. A few weeks in the country will help, I warrant." A visit to Seven Oaks would also take him out of the way of suspicion when this man carried out the deed for him.

"I'm sure you will find it soothing," Hawkscliffe said—
polite, automatic.

They were both silent for a long moment, Hawkscliffe brooding, Coldfell reflecting on the uneasiness of living anymore in his elegant villa in South Kensington with its four pretty acres of sculpted gardens—the site of Lucy's death.

" 'Lay her in the earth. And from her fair and unpolluted flesh may violets spring,' " Hawkscliffe quoted barely audibly.

Coldfell looked at him in pity. "Laertes' speech on
Ophelia's grave."

The duke said nothing, merely stared at the carven letters on the monument: Lucy's name, her date of birth and death.

"I never touched her," he choked out abruptly, turning to
Coldfell in impetuous anguish. "You have my word as a gentleman. She never betrayed you."

Evenly, Coldfell held his gaze, then nodded as though satisfied, but of course he had already known.

"Ah, Robert," he said heavily after a long moment, "it is so strange, the way they found her. She went out to our pond every day to sketch the swans. How could she have slipped? Perhaps my brain is muddled with grief, but it makes no sense to me."

"She could never slip," he said vehemently. "She was graceful . . . so graceful."

Coldfell was taken aback by his ferocity. This was going to be easier than he'd hoped.

"Did your servants report anything strange that day, my lord, if I may presume to ask?" pursued the duke.

"Nothing."

"Did anyone see anything? Hear anything? She was in earshot of the house. Could they not hear her cries for help?"

"Perhaps she had no time to cry out before she fell beneath the water."

Hawkscliffe turned away again, his firm mouth grimly pursed. "My lord, I have the blackest suspicions."

Coldfell paused, watching him. "I wish that I could put your mind at ease, but I'm afraid that I, too, am haunted by severe doubts."

Hawkscliffe turned and stared penetratingly at him. His dark eyes glowed like hellfire. "Go on."

"It doesn't add up. There was no blood on the rock where they said she . . . struck her head. What am I to do? I
am an old man. These sore limbs are weak. I haven't the strength," he said slowly, emphatically, "to do what a husband should."

"I do," vowed Hawkscliffe.

Table of Contents

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Duke (Knight Miscellany Series #1) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 94 reviews.
ambervic More than 1 year ago
This was probably my favorite book of all time. It made my heart race, it made me cry. One of the most beautiful love stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Page turner
Sambagirl More than 1 year ago
Okay - so I've read a TON of romance over the last year. I average about 3 to 4 books a week. My favorites are Julia Quinn's Bridgerton Series, S. Laurens' Cynster Series (just the first 6 or so), D. Gabaldon's Outlander Series and so on. I have to say after reading The Pirate Prince, Princess and Prince Charming (my first 3 Gaelen Foley novels), I wasn't expecting a lot from The Duke. But whoa. I mean... whoa. I'm not even half way through this book and already I've smiled, grinned, teared-up, frowned in anguish and FELT more for these characters and with these characters than I have for a long time. I felt COMPELLED to write my first ever full review of a book. Brava Ms. Foley! Wow. The maturity of writing style and poignancy of the heart-rending, blushing, tripping, dare-we-hope? romance of Robert and Belinda... not to mention the first really spicy scene in Robert's library... *whew* *fans self* I can't wait to finish it!
DimplesND More than 1 year ago
This was my favourite out of all the knight series.It was amazing from beginnig to end.Loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finsihed reading this book today and I can not say enough good things about it. It was a great story. The duke is a great hero in the story and Bel is a great herione. They are great for eachother. This story was very well written. The scenes are great. The bathtub scene was really good. Go out and read this book you will not be disappointed.
Anniik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was an unexpected suprise. The only book of Gaelen Foley's that I'd read to this point was "Her Only Desire" - which unfortunately I found to be a rather bad read. But I found this one at a bargain bookstore and picked up - and was pleasantly suprised. While imperfect, this book is well written and entertaining. Bel's story of her fall from from genteel poor to courtesan is sad but not overly melodramatic, and her relationship with Hawkscliffe builds well, and is not dropped on the reader out of nowhere. Hawkscliffe's revelations about his lady-love at the end of the book turn upside down his well-ordered conceptions of morality, and add an interesting twist to his character. While not a deep or particularly spectacular book, this book is an enjoyable read and I'm glad I picked it up.
onyx95 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
He, the Duke of Hawkscliffe (Robert Knight) needed to know the truth about how his ladylove died. Thinking it involved foul play, he enlisted the aide of a beautiful and popular courtesan. She, Belinda (Bel) Hamilton had tried everything she could think to remain respectable until her soldier returned, but some plans are forced to take a different path. Looking for a courteous `protector¿ was difficult, after finding Robert, keeping her heart in tack would be even more difficult to do.Book 1 ¿.. I really wanted to like the `paragon¿ (Robert) and Bel, he was everything I usually like in a main character, she had lots of tragedy and drama, but something was just off. I couldn¿t seem to find that emotional connection to either of the characters. A good basic, predictable historical romance. The best part took forever to get to (the grand gesture) and then it was over. I hope the second book (Lord of Fire) will give us a glimpse of the `happy ever after¿ as well as give Lord Lucien¿s story.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Victim of a rich man's weird obsession, Belinda is forced to become a courtesan to survive - luckily her first patron is the man she'll end up with forever.
CathyLeming on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gaelen Foley displays a considerable talent for writing heroes, and for giving this jaded Regency romance fan a new perspective into that period. Gaelen's voice, although not quintessentially Regency, is wicked intelligent. Her descriptions are thorough but fast-paced. After years of reading good, but not riveting, historical romance, this one, finally, kept me up all night.
mom2lnb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"4.5 stars" The Duke is the best book I have read in while. I really enjoyed this Cinderella-type story of a young woman who was reduced to a penniless state by a greedy, obsessed suitor and the gallant duke who became her rescuer. Even though I liked this book very much it was not quite the perfect, grand romance I expected. Instead it bore a bit more resemblance to the historical reality of that era. That's not to say I didn't like it. It simply was different that what one might expect from a romance with this theme. I really admired Belinda. She had so many wonderful qualities, it wasn't difficult to see why Robert would fall in love with her. What I liked most about her was that in spite of being the victim of rape (and several unethical schemes) she never allowed herself to be victimized. Instead she took control of her life and courageously stood up to those who had done her harm. I also greatly respected her to choice maintain some shred of morality even though she had chosen to become a courtesan. Robert was a gentle and patient man who tried to live a virtuous life in an attempt to overcome the black mark his mother had left on the family name by having multiple lovers. In the beginning of the story, he seemed more beta than alpha, but when his protective nature came out, he could be frighteningly vicious. He was a little hard-headed at times though, which could be a bit frustrating to read, but in the end he fully realized Bel's true worth and put his heart on the line in the most romantic of ways. It was great to see him break out of the box he had been put into and truly feel free.I really liked Gaelen Foley's writing style. Some of the situations she presents are very complex and nuanced making me think about them long after I finished the book (in fact I still am), such as what type of life circumstances might have caused a woman to choose the life of courtesan or how difficult it would have been for two people of highly differing social stations to marry. The author also had a way of holding back emotions at times, which I think may have been intentional, as it gave me a sense of the insecurity that Bel was feeling in her relationship with Robert. While the love scenes were not plentiful, they were very sensuous, beautifully expressing the building emotions between the two characters. I liked the way that the author was able to weave in several real-life historical figures as secondary characters, and there was a political element that for once was actually interesting instead of being dry. The story kept a steady pace, more than holding my interest. In fact, every time I had to put it down, I could hardly wait for the next opportunity to read. This was my first book by Gaelen Foley, but it was impressive enough that I could see her becoming a new favorite author in the future. I've already picked up Book #2 in this series, Lord of Fire and am definitely looking forward to reading it.
ExArkie More than 1 year ago
I only review books that I (1) LOVE or (2) HATE. I love this one. Best first chapter I've read in years - in fact, it's right up there with books considered classics. Of course, it IS a Romance book; so, it does not remain at that level; however, it remains pretty good. Congratulations to the author - wish I had just a tiny bit of her talent. ExArkie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love! From beginning to end this book is AMAZING!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book several times...and each time it seems to get better. Gaelen Foley is one of my very favorite authors and I can't wait to see more of her work!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read. Made me look for more form this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderful - I couldn't put it down. My heart was in my throat for many parts. Buying the next book in this series right now I can't wait to read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really recommend this book. I red about it in Heroes heartbreaking website and bought it. I didn't regret it. It was a beautiful romance!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LAKN More than 1 year ago
"The Duke" is a wonderful exciting read. You never know what is going to come next.