Dusk with a Dangerous Duke
They were children when the Duke of Huntsley was introduced to Lady Grace Kearly. The young duke—nicknamed "Hunter"—took one look at his future bride and thought only of escaping his responsibilities to his family. Marriage was for grown-ups and Hunter still had years of skirt-chasing ahead of him. But now the time has come for Hunter to heed the call: if this Lord of Vice hopes to keep all of his inheritance, he'll have to claim his long-neglected betrothed…
With her twenty-first birthday approaching, Lady Grace dreads the thought of marrying the duke she has met only once—especially since he's grown into a notorious rake who will probably beget his heir and abandon her in the country while he pursues fresh game in London. So when Lady Grace coolly decides to call the wedding off, even Hunter is surprised by his refusal to let her go. Suddenly, the notion of claiming and taming this green-eyed beauty is one challenge he cannot resist…
About the Author
Alexandra Hawkins is an unrepentant Anglophile who discovered romance novels as a teenager and knew that one day she would be writing her own. With her Lords of Vice series, she has combined her love of English history, mythology, and romance to create sensual character-driven stories that, she hopes, will touch readers' hearts. Alexandra lives in Georgia with her husband and three children.
Alexandra Hawkins is the author of the Lords of Vice Novels—All Night with a Rogue, Till Dawn with the Devil, and After Dark with a Scoundrel. An unrepentant Anglophile, she discovered romance novels as a teenager, and knew that one day she would be writing her own stories. She has combined her love of English history, mythology, and romance to create sensual character-driven stories that she hopes will touch readers’ hearts. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three children.
Read an Excerpt
Dusk with a Dangerous Duke
By Alexandra Hawkins
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 Alexandra Hawkins
All rights reserved.
February 2, 1825, near Frethwell Hall
It was a cold bitter night for traveling the rough northern countryside roads on horseback. Stubborn and foolhardy, Hunter silently acknowledged his current predicament as he thought of the dry, comfortable coach he had abandoned at the last inn three hours behind him. Warm and his belly full, his coachman was likely savoring his fifth pot of ale in front of the hearth as he regaled his companions with raunchy tales of his master's exploits and the madness that had burned in his brain like a fever.
Not madness, Hunter amended.
And the lady had a name — Lady Grace Kearly.
She was the reason he and his horse were tearing up miles of road on this godforsaken night. He had fought this inevitable meeting for too many years, but he had run out of time.
It was time to collect his unwanted bride.
I should have visited Frethwell Hall two years ago when Porter urged me to set aside the time.
Not that Hunter hadn't tried to rectify his mistake.
In the past nine months, he had tried to visit Lady Grace. Twice. Both times he had been turned away. The butler had told him that his mistress was not in residence. She had been away visiting friends, and no one seemed to know when she would return.
At the time, a part of him had been relieved by his unexpected reprieves. However, time was running out for both him and Lady Grace, and his impulsive visit to Frethwell Hall this evening was bound to delay his return to London.
You had nineteen years to collect her, gent.
Hunter shook off the twinge of regret before it took hold of him. Besides, anger was more palatable. In truth, he had his grandmother to thank for his lamentable circumstances. If the wily old woman had not died when he was still young enough to be intimidated by her, he might have been able to talk his way out of this arranged marriage.
His horse squealed as Hunter abruptly tugged on the reins to bring the animal to a halt. Annoyed with his rider's rough treatment, the horse snorted and shook his head while Hunter squinted at the lights in the distance.
He absently leaned forward and patted the horse's thick-muscled neck. "There, there ... Draw comfort in knowing that your misery is almost over, whilst mine is just beginning."
Lady Grace awaited the prize his grandmother had promised her grandfather.
She would soon be the Duchess of Huntsley.
"I'll wager she has teeth that'll remind me of a mare and hair thick and coarse like thatching," Hunter said, glaring at the country house in the distance. "Not to mention, a nasty disposition and voice that suits a sailor rather than a duchess."
His solicitor, however, would vehemently disagree with Hunter's description. According to Porter, Lady Grace possessed a beauty that would inspire artists, a voice that made angels weep with envy, and a sweet disposition.
Ha! Porter was capable of lying to gain Hunter's cooperation. The old scar on his wrist and the young lady's elusiveness proved that the hoyden still lurked beneath the social polish and instruction that she had received over the years.
A cold drop of rain struck him on cheek, causing him to glance heavenward. He was going to be soaked if he tarried. It was just one more thing that he could blame Lady Grace for since she had first announced to a dismayed Porter a year and a half ago that she was beginning to have second thoughts about the marriage contract struck when they were children. Porter's visit with the stubborn wench last month had proven Lady Grace's opinion on the subject had not improved.
Well, it was up to Hunter to change her mind.
With a wordless shout, he spurred the weary animal toward the distant lights.
* * *
As Hunter had predicted, the rain was almost blinding by the time he had reached the house. Cold, hungry, and too angry to be civil company for anyone, he tethered the horse and strode to the front door with an impatient stride. He pounded his fist against the solid oak surface and was forced to wait five minutes before his knocks roused someone's curiosity.
A thin, middle-aged man opened the door wide enough to poke his head and a small lantern through the opening. Hunter recognized the man as Lady Grace's butler.
"'Tis a foul night for a man to be out on the roads."
"No truer words have been spoken, my good man," Hunter said, striving for a civil tone. If he could not get past Lady Grace's gatekeeper, then he would have no success with the mistress of Frethwell Hall. "My apologies for interrupting your supper. Due to this abominable weather, the journey took longer than expected."
Obviously deducing from Hunter's speech that his unexpected visitor was a nobleman, the servant straightened and opened the door wider. "There's no reason why you should tarry in the rain. Come into the hall, Your Grace."
So the man recognized him. This was an unexpected boon. Hunter was happy to oblige. "Ah, good! Then you know who I am."
"Your disappointment at our last meeting made an impression."
Belatedly, he recalled his tired, wet horse and grimaced. "My horse will need attending as well."
The butler's brows lifted in surprise as he peered outside. "You were not traveling by coach?"
Hunter chuckled, "Only a madman would brave such weather on horseback, eh?"
His coachman had said as much to his face.
"Or a man in love," the servant replied while he shut the door, missing his companion's look of astonishment. "However, I suspect you have not succumbed to either affliction."
"How can you tell?"
"Simple enough, I suppose. My job requires me to take a swift measure of a man's character," the butler said casually as he walked by Hunter to set the oil lamp on a narrow table. "I wouldn't be protecting my mistress if I opened the door to just anyone who wandered down the gravel road, now would I?"
With admirable efficiency, the butler stripped Hunter of his greatcoat and hat. "Stay here. You're making a fine mess on the floor, and I'd rather mop up one large puddle instead of a dozen smaller ones. I'll get you a blanket and summon one of the boys to see to your horse. Then we'll see about getting you dry, and, if you have the inclination, something to warm your belly."
"Wait!" Hunter called out. "Before you see to the blanket, you might want to let your mistress know of my arrival."
"It is unnecessary, Your Grace."
Hunter knew he wasn't a madman, but he was beginning to wonder about Lady Grace's butler. "Why? Is she hiding in the shadows overhead?"
The butler paused, and gave him a shrewd glance. "My lady is not a spiritless creature, Your Grace. You will not find her lurking in the corners."
He was in no mood to listen to the servant's defense of his mistress. "Then where is she? Speak plainly because I am too cold and wet for civility."
The butler gave him a hesitant look. "I cannot say, Your Grace. My lady departed Frethwell Hall more than a fortnight past."
Hunter brought his hand to his face and noted that his fingers trembled. He preferred to blame the weariness creeping into his bones, but he was only fooling himself.
He was bloody furious.
The woman was going to be the death of him. He had traveled all this way for nothing. Porter had once told him that the blasted woman rarely traveled beyond her parish. It had taken Hunter nineteen years to come up to scratch. The least the woman could do was remain at home so he could formally declare his intentions.
"Where is she?" he demanded.
Loyalty to his lady warred with self-preservation. "Your Grace —"
Hunter marched up to the servant.
"N-north," the man blurted out before Hunter could throttle the answer out of him. "I heard she journeyed north to visit a sick friend."
"Of course she isn't here," he said, mostly to himself. "The one place she should be."
"And why is that, if you don't mind me asking?" the butler asked.
"Because I am here!" Hunter replied, thumping his fist on his chest with frustration, "— in the middle of nowhere." Cold, wet, and hungry. "While your lady is savoring a warm hearth and the company of her good friend. I must confess — what the devil is your name?"
"Copper, sir," the butler helpfully supplied.
"Well, Copper, I must confess that it is becoming apparent that your mistress is proving to be difficult. It is an unpleasant trait for a wife."
Perhaps it was unfair to judge the absent lady so harshly, but he was not in a reasonable mood.
"Quite right." The butler cleared his throat. "Though perhaps you are mistaken about the lady's intentions?"
"I highly doubt it."
How many times had Porter chastised Hunter about his lack of interest in joining him on his annual visit to Frethwell Hall? His solicitor and his future bride failed to appreciate the demands on his time. Without a doubt, his absence had provoked Lady Grace's defiance, and Porter had washed his hands of the entire affair. The elderly man even had the audacity to order Hunter to rectify the situation.
It was the reason why he was there on such a godforsaken night.
Hunter's eyes narrowed on the butler. "Copper, are you aware that your mistress has ignored my missives?"
He had sent three. The last one had been sent after Porter's visit. However, the lady had failed to respond.
The butler hastily glanced away. "It is not my place to speculate, Your Grace."
"Your lady is vexed with my behavior," he said, already guessing the butler's response. "Porter has said as much on numerous occasions."
"Please, Your Grace," the butler entreated. "I have been with the little mistress since she was a child, and I would not wish for her to view me in an unfavorable light."
Was Lady Grace intending to alter her fate?
It was a tempting thought. One he had pondered over the years when deep in his cups. Perhaps they had more in common that he thought.
The butler's loyalty to Lady Grace should have annoyed Hunter, but he tilted his head back and laughed. "I doubt there is a gentleman who is more deserving of your lady's ire than I."
The declaration was supposed to cheer the old servant. Instead the man looked utterly grim. "Give me time and I might be able to come up with another name or two."
Nineteen years was a long time for a bride to wait.
Hunter offered no apology, but he was not blind to his many sins.
In a friendly gesture, he clapped the butler on the back. "Care to wager on it, my good fellow?"CHAPTER 2
March 13, 1825, Frethwell Hall
"Straightaway, I knew the starlings were a sign of things to come."
Grace glanced up from her book and turned her attention to her agitated servant. "What starlings?"
Rosemary plucked the book from her mistress's hands and placed it on the table. "He insists on seeing you at once. 'Tis a shame there is no time to change your dress. This one is heading for the rag bin, but it will have to do."
Concerned, Grace stood and stilled the housekeeper's attempts to tidy the library. "Slow down. What about the starlings?"
The servant closed her eyes and murmured a soft prayer. When she opened her eyes, the stark worry in her gaze made Grace's stomach flutter. "Dead. Fifty of them. They fell out of the sky and hit the front lawn like black stones. Their wings and heads were twisted at horrible angles."
Grace brought her fingers to her lips. "Good grief! When did this happen? No one said a word of it."
"That was my doing," Rosemary explained. "I did not want to frighten you. But it's a dark omen to be certain. His Grace's arrival is proof enough."
Her breath caught in her throat. He was here. Her wait was finally over. "I do not believe it. Are you telling me that the Duke of Huntsley has arrived?"
She glanced down at her plain dress in alarm. Rosemary was correct. Her dress was entirely unsuitable for her first meeting with the gentleman she was betrothed to marry.
Grace frowned. Well, second meeting, she silently amended. She had been too young to recall the occasion. "I cannot have him see me in this dress."
"Not that duke," the older woman said, smoothing some of the wrinkles with her hand. "The other one. And there is no time to fret about your dress. I told him that you required a few minutes, but his sort do not like waiting for anyone. He will be here at any moment."
A polite knock heralded the arrival of her unexpected visitor.
Rosemary was all business when she strode across the room and opened the door. "Lady Grace will see you now," she said cheerfully, refraining from pointing out that the duke should have waited for the butler to bring him upstairs.
"Your Grace," Grace said. She was unable to match her housekeeper's false cheery demeanor, so she simply smiled as she curtsied. "What an unexpected pleasure."
Of course, she was lying.
There was very little Grace liked about her uncle.
The second son of the Duke and Duchess of Strangham, Lord Gasper had inherited the title from Grace's father at his unexpected death. According to her grandfather, her uncle had donned his mourning clothes as was expected, while he quietly started spending the family's fortune on horses, lavish parties, and mistresses. He might have exhausted Grace's inheritance as well if not for her grandfather's shrewd decision to betroth her to the young Duke of Huntsley.
As a child, she could recall the heated arguments between her grandfather and uncle. On numerous occasions, her grandfather had warned her to keep her distance from Strangham. He was not to be trusted, he had said. Unfortunately, her grandfather had passed away and could no longer protect her. The passing years had claimed the life of the dowager, too. As for the Duke of Huntsley, well, His Grace had more important business than visiting Frethwell Hall.
In his stead, she received an annual visit from the duke's solicitor Mr. Porter.
So she endured her uncle's visits, which were infrequent and blessedly brief. She could not fathom why he bothered to call on her. He did not seem to appreciate her or her home, Frethwell Hall.
After a brief hesitation, the Duke of Strangham clasped her hand, encouraging her to rise. "Good afternoon, niece. How charming you look. Did I catch you at some light housekeeping? I thought Huntsley was taking better care of you than that."
Grace managed to keep her pleasant expression in place, even though she longed to pick up the book she had been reading and hurl it at the duke's head. Her uncle always reminded her that the Duke of Huntsley's protection was in name only.
"I confess, I was not prepared for visitors this afternoon, Uncle," she said, moving aside as he walked to the center of the room. "As for the duke, do not fret. I am provided with everything that I require."
Her uncle ran two fingers over one of the tables and examined them. He made a soft disgruntled noise as he rubbed the imaginary dust from his finger.
His eyebrows lifted as he glanced in her direction. "Ah, so you have heard from him recently."
Grace tried not to fidget under his scrutiny. "His solicitor visited last month."
"You are referring to astute Mr. Porter, are you not?"
The duke's tone implied that he did not think the man was astute at all.
"Mr. Porter is fully capable of conveying my wishes to the Duke of Huntsley. If you must know the truth, I am quite spoiled by His Grace's generosity."
She wanted for nothing except the man himself. In that instance, the duke was downright miserly, giving everyone but her his personal attention.
Her uncle extended his hand, inviting her to join him on the sofa. "You are indeed fortunate, my dear."
She placed her hand on his and they sat down together.
"I heard gossip about Huntsley when I was in London last month."
"You surprise me, Uncle. I would not take you as one who would pay attention to such tripe."
His mouth thinned at her light rebuke, but it did not prevent him from sharing what he had heard. "Normally, I do not bother. However, I have discovered over the years that most of the gossip I have heard about Huntsley and his acquaintances is true. In fact, most of the stories are understated in a useless attempt to protect their families and the innocent who have the misfortune to be connected to these scurrilous gentlemen."
Excerpted from Dusk with a Dangerous Duke by Alexandra Hawkins. Copyright © 2013 Alexandra Hawkins. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
I am telling you the truth if some of these writers/authors dont pick up their game, I will start to look else where. I bought this book based on the author and because it was a lord of vice series without bothering to read what it was about. Never again will i do this. I got bit once with mary balough "secrete misstress" it was a secrete alright, all the way to the cash register (i bought it in hard cover), because of her name & the last series she wrote. Now i wont buy anything from her unless its in the bargain bend @ a discount store. I contacted her to let her know how i felt. I'm going to contact ms.hawkens to let her know this will no be acceptable. Books cost money and in this economy every dollar counts. P O'd in the ATL. ( forgive the spelling!) :-(
I loved the Lords of Vice series. However, I am disappointed in Hunter's story. Especially how it ended - it felt rushed. I am looking forward to Frost's story but am now wary about how that story will come about...
I agree with the other reviews this book fell flat. I have read all the other Lord of Vice books and this was just ok. Hunter was a bully the whole book and didn't listen to Grace then like in the last two of chapters he is in love with her? I really hope Frost's story is more developed.
I do not rate a lot of books however I feel a need to here. I love the first 4 lords of vice books but after reading the overview for the 5th book(saints story)I had no wish to buy it. He falls in love with a madame? Seriously? Not only that but she has also slept with his friends and has sent girls to service saint? While I expect a certain amount of debauchery, (they are the lords of vice after all) this was too much for me. I didn't even read it. That being said I bought this book( hunters story) immediately. It was a complete let down. The only love scene was in the last 5 pages, the ending was completely rushed and the whole time I kept hoping lady grace would slap him in the face. He was a jerk the entire time and she falls in love with him? Why? I just don't understand. This book left me angry and confused. NOT a romance novel!
I love the Lords of Vice but Hunter's story fell short. I kept waiting for it to pick up or get better but then everything was wrapped up quickly and unexpectedly in the last chapter. It felt like Hawkins didn't know how to advance & resolve the storyline so she hurriedly did so in one chapter and ended it to make her deadline. It felt like she ran out of steam and just ended the book.
The story was quick, boring and rushed. Not the same as the other books she wrote. I agree with all the reviews.
I have read all the Vice books and this one fell flat. As all the others said it did not develop at all and rushed at the end. No gradual build up of love or affection. Just ended. Frost's book has to make up for it.
I've read all the Lords of Vice series and the last two are just not up to par. No love scene in this one until the last 5 pages. They are suppose to be "lords of vice" but there was no "vice" happening in this story.
I LOVE the Lords of Vice series, but the last two books, for me, have been seriously lacking! What's up with that? This story, concerning, Hunter, the Duke, has been built up since the very first book in the series and it was highly disappointing. I don't know if the author lost focus, or interest, or maybe ran short of time or what but I was very disappointed. The book was dull and seemed to end in a rush. If you like the Vice series, I would recommend borrowing it from someone (you're welcome to mine) or reading it at the store if you HAVE to have it. If not, I would wait for the next one. I have been looking forward to Frost's story since Book 1 and I really, really hope Ms. Hawkins does justice to the hype she's built up for him.
This is about Hunter, the Duke of Huntsley, and Grace, his fiance of 19 years. They became betrothed in an arrangement made by their grandparents, and then Hunter proceeds to ignore her until her 21st birthday, the marriage deadline, approaches. Grace is quite resentful of him at this point and decides to end the engagement and find a husband of her choosing. However, Hunter is now ready to fulfill his destiny. There is no spark between them, only antagonism. Steam is 1+. This is part of the Lords of Vice series, and hopefully, the next one will be better.
I have been waiting for Hunter's story for awhile, feeling like we were leading up to a great book. I was sorely disappointed. The characters did not develop at all in the story, the one "love" scene was pretty lame. I agree with the other reviewers who said Hunter was an ass and I can not understand how Grace was able to fall in love with him. I've been waiting for Frost's story from the beginning. Please Alexandra, do not let it be as bad as the last two in the series!
Can we get a little more adventure earlier in the next book? I love the lords of vice, but the last two felt incomplete. Are we getting the whole story when we purchase it online? Two more chapters in each would suffice.
Im very disappointed . The major parts of the story were skipped! And then the climax was so short that the ending seemed uncompleted, as if the author judt didnt have the time or care to finish. Im not wasting any more money in the other books in fear that they to will read like unfinished work. This book is only worth $2. Seriously what a waste and it started off well but nose dived ! This coyld have been a great story...
It is agreat book
- Lord Darkley returns to his school to find that it has turned good. Enraged, he and his children set off to find Sensei Wu to demand that he hand over the school. However his son, Ian is having some doubts about which side is the right one...<br> - Ian Darkley goes to visit his mother, Mystake, whom he hasn't seen since his parents divorced five years before. He is shocked to discover that Misako, Lloyd Garmadon's mother is his aunt, which means that Lord Garmadon is his uncle.<br> - Heartbroken and feeling betrayed, Jay Walker decides to give up being a ninja and travel his own path when Nya announces her engagement to Cole. He meets Ian, who asks him to teach him the art of Spinjitzu. The training began fine, but when his student showed signs of being more attuned to the element of fire, Jay refused to teach him any more- the memories of Nya were still too strong. Ian left and began traveling again.<br> - Although she is happy with Cole, Nya has felt as if a part of her is missing since Jay left. <br> - Ian travels until he meets the phantom ninja, who completes his training as a ninja. He purchases a pair of katana swords from the Four Weapons blacksmith shop in Ignacia, then returns to Jay's hideout to train in the element of lightning.
This series started strong, but the author may have exhausted her storylines by this point. The quality of her writing has definitely decreased in the latter books. I think it was maybe too ambitious to attempt a series with seven characters. Will push on to see what happens next with Frost
DUSK WITH A DANGEROUS DUKE by Alexandra Hawkins is an exciting Historical Romance 1825 London. #6 in the famous "Lords of Vice" series, but can be read as a stand alone. The Lords of Vice live for the thrill of the hunt, even after they are caught by their beloved ladies. This is Lady Grace Kearly and the Duke of Huntsley (Hunter)'s story. And what a story! Betrothed as children, Hunter runs off, but in order to keep his inheritance he and Grace MUST marry within an allotted time frame or lose his inheritance. So he must marry Grace and soon. But Grace has had years of waiting for him to appear and is re-thinking marriage to the notorious rake and womanizer. But when Hunter and Grace finally met all grown-up, what follows is passion, charm, challenges, and romance. Both romantic and erotic, the Lords of Vice series is exciting, intriguing and well worth the time to read. A must for sure. Can Hunter charm Grace into following though with their wedding plans or will she run away? I have read this entire series and can honestly say it was a blast to read and look forward to Ms. Hawkins next grand adventure. I am waiting for Frost's story. While, all of these gentleman, I say that kindly, for they where all notorious Rakes, and womanizers with tortured souls to say the least. The "Lord of Vice" series is worth the time to read. Received for an honest review from the publisher. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: MILD REVIEWED BY: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
I read other reviews, In part I agree, the ending left me cold. It just ended. I would think the writer could pick up these characters and tie them all together in a final book' Show the outcomes of all the lord of Vice's. Did Hunter get his heir within the 18 months .It was not a total disappointment to me..
Wonderful read love this series, I wish there was lots more
Nicolas Stuart Towers, Duke of Huntsley, and Lady Grace Kearly have been contractually betrothed for nineteen years. Hunter has done his best to ignore Grace and she has had enough. He can keep his contract, bed all the mistresses he wants, because she is going to find a husband and damn the consequences. Hunter had decided he is the man Grace is going to marry to keep the contract that their grandparents agreed upon because honor among all other traits is one to be cherished. He may be seen as a Lord of Vice but he is truly a man that knows the right thing to do and Hunter must prove to Grace he has been neglectful of her but that is in the past. Trying to court Grace is a challenge Hunter never anticipated and Grace is determined to lose him like dust on her shoes. Yes, Hunter is guilty of neglecting her but he also never expected to find himself falling in love with her. Grace has become the desire he must have, the passion he seeks in his life, and someone that has provided a reason to become a better man. Even with family objections, friends interference, and a lurking danger whatever steps must be taken Hunter will perform to obtain Grace as his duchess. Alexandra Hawkins never lets a reader of historical romance forget how wonderful she is at creating characters with depth and a romance between them that brings a tear to your eye.
I loved the first three books amazing stories but this one made want to slap someone the ending was just rushed, as if she said oh I need an ending...and they lived happily ever after kind of thing...I hated the book...it just lacked the sex appeal that Hunter is supposed to have...I'm waiting on Frost by far my favorite Lord of Vice hopefully she picks up the slack and makes a great story with his character.