The Runaway Duke

The Runaway Duke

by Julie Anne Long

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446614252
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 08/28/2004
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,079,625
Product dimensions: 6.74(w) x 10.90(h) x 1.04(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Runaway Duke

By Julie Anne Long

Warner Forever

Copyright © 2004 Julie Anne Long
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-61425-4

Chapter One

May 1820

A word, Rebecca."

Lady Tremaine stood on the stairs with a lit candle in hand, a sleeping cap pulled down over her graying curls. She was a short woman who had gone very round in her middle years, and her night robe was flamboyantly ruffled. The overall effect was usually endearing; tonight, however, it was simply terrifying. Above all those ruffles Lady Tremaine's mouth was a grim line, and her eyes were shining with unspilled tears.

"To bed with you, Lorelei. Come with me, Rebecca." Rebecca, in her incriminating black clothing, followed her mother to the sitting room, her heart a frozen fist in her chest.

Her mother did not sit down, or invite Rebecca to sit. She merely turned to speak.

"Clearly I have failed you, Rebecca." "Mama-" Rebecca began, pleading, but her mother raised her hand abruptly. "No, it is quite clear that I have failed you. I think it can be fairly said that you are perhaps a special case, but it remains a mother's duty to give her daughter the skills she needs to fulfill her obligation in life. And I have tried-"

Here Lady Tremaine's voice broke, and one tear slipped from her eye. Rebecca watched, transfixed in dread, as the candlelight lit its path down her mother's cheek. She had seen exasperation on her mother's face before-many times before, truth be told-and frustration and anger, too, all a result of something she had done or failed to do. But she had never before made her mother cry.

"I have tried," Lady Tremaine continued, her composure regained, "to teach you modesty. And honesty. And gentleness. I have tried to demonstrate by my own actions the proper way to behave. I have tried to ensure that you could lay claim to at least a few ladylike refinements, such as the pianoforte or embroidery. And I have not undertaken this in order to punish you, Rebecca, though I am quite sure you have thought otherwise, but to protect you: a woman is nothing without a husband. For the sake of your future happiness and security, for the sake of your place in society, for the sake of your honor, I have attempted to teach you these things, so that when the time came you would be a suitable wife deserving of a suitable husband."

"Mama-" Rebecca tried again, a hoarse whisper. Lady Tremaine shook her head in warning. The tears were falling swiftly and silently now, and her voice had gone thick.

"And though you have a good heart, Rebecca, you have willfully resisted all of my teachings, which has caused me no end of distress. I am convinced that it is only through an accident of fate that you have not brought great shame down upon us. At this very moment, you can be certain that your father is securing your engagement to Lord Edelston. Your honor and the honor of your family will thus be protected, and Lorelei's prospects will not be threatened. You may count yourself fortunate that instead of becoming a social pariah and a burden on your family, you will become the wife of a baron. You may go to your room now. We will talk further in the morning."

An hour earlier ...

It had been almost disappointingly easy to leave her bedroom just before midnight, creep down the stairs, tiptoe out through the kitchen, and dash across the back garden lawn to crouch behind the tall hedge near the fountain. Obviously, it had never occurred to her parents that one of their daughters might ever be tempted to do such a thing; they had retired hours earlier, and were no doubt already sleeping the sleep of the blissfully unaware. All the servants were safely in their beds and snoring, too; her own maid Letty, as usual, slept as though she'd been clubbed in the head. The entire estate seemed to be dreaming, dogs and horses included. Rebecca was satisfied that no one had witnessed her furtive excursion.

Her exultation at having successfully arrived at the fountain ebbed a bit, however, when she discovered that it was colder than she had anticipated. Although she had, quite cleverly, she thought, donned a pair of black gloves and a dark wool cloak and tucked her treacherously bright hair into a dark furry hat before she left the house, the chill was beginning to penetrate every last bit of her protective covering.

To distract herself, she exhaled extravagantly and admired the white cloud her breath made. There had been a very interesting article on vapor and condensation in one of her father's scientific journals, and Rebecca had been happily engrossed in it this afternoon in the library until her mother herded her into the solarium, where she was forced to poke at the pianoforte for the rest of the afternoon.

The midnight trap she had planned for her sister had promised to more than make up for the torture of pianoforte practice, but the midnight chill, as much as she hated to admit it, was proving daunting. She hoped her sister Lorelei would hurry up and appear and fall into the arms of Anthony, Lord Edelston, who, no doubt, was creeping across the lawn to the fountain at this very moment. Rebecca planned to leap out from behind the hedge with a hearty "ah-HA!" and thus buy freedom from future extortion by her sister.

It was quite by accident that Rebecca had overheard the exchange between the tall, golden-haired Lord Edelston and her fair sister, Lorelei, who, by the age of eighteen, had done her duty to her relieved parents by growing into precisely the sort of pristine beauty the ambitious name "Lorelei" implied. Lorelei was very nearly unnerving, with her silver-blond hair, pale blossom of a mouth, and enormous crystalline blue eyes fringed with the most unfair dark lashes. Rebecca's own lashes were a sort of pale chestnut, which she supposed matched her hair well enough and did nothing to detract from her own handsome gray-green eyes, but they simply lacked the drama of Lorelei's. Rebecca sometimes feared her entire face lacked drama, which seemed to her a gross-or perhaps merciful-misrepresentation of what actually went on in her mind and heart.

Whereas Lorelei had inherited her mother's smooth refined oval of a face, Rebecca had inherited her bones from some more rugged ancestor: her cheekbones soared, her mouth was wide and plush, her nose was straight and strong and resolute, and her firm little chin had a dimple in it, for heaven's sake, exactly the size of the tip of her forefinger.

When one considered them side by side, one could see that Lorelei and Rebecca were sisters, but Lorelei's hair seemed like something spun from silk and moonlight, while Rebecca's hair was merely numerous shades of red and rambunctiously curly to boot.

"Titian," her mother described it, optimistically; "That unfortunate red" is what Lorelei called it when they were sniping at each other, which was rather frequently.

Rebecca did not dislike her older sister, and Lorelei did not dislike Rebecca. They were, in fact, very fond of each other. But Rebecca was widely loved by the servants and the neighbors, partially because she was everything Lorelei was not: she laughed loudly and easily, she was curious, she read far more than a decently bred girl ought to read, she galloped her horse hard (astride, no less) and came home happily sweaty. She was affectionate and kind and immensely opinionated about things she should really know nothing about, but then Sir Henry Tremaine was a trifle careless about where he left his scientific journals.

She was, naturally, the bane of her mother's existence and affectionately tolerated by her father, who had taught her to shoot on a whim and then basically left her to her own devices, as she could never really be the boy he had always wanted. Both of her parents secretly despaired of finding a husband for Rebecca, let alone one with a title.

Lorelei, on the other hand, was typically regarded with the sort of nervous reverence her kind of beauty always inspired, and although she secretly reveled in the awe, she found herself increasingly unable to step out of her regal reserve. She had begun to regard her own beauty as something sacred that had been entrusted unto her safekeeping, and thus she felt obliged to treat herself with somber respect at all times. Lorelei was fully expected to make a spectacular titled marriage, and her mother never tired of pointing this out.

Consequently the Tremaine sisters were jealous of each other, which manifested in an ongoing exchange of blackmail threats that rarely reached their parents' ears, although the possibility was always tantalizingly present. Yesterday afternoon Lorelei had threatened to tell Sir Henry, their father, that Rebecca had been poring over the anatomy book he purposely kept on a very high shelf in the library. This was a serious threat, indeed, as the book had been forbidden to Rebecca, and punishment would no doubt be severe-she might even be deprived of her horse for a fortnight. And doubtless the book would then be spirited away forever, safe from Rebecca's voracious hunger for knowledge, and Rebecca would never learn the complete story of how blood circulates through the veins (it was much, much too late to protect her from the story of how babies were made).

In a sense, it was all her father's fault. Upon retirement, Sir Henry had indulged his long-denied interest in science and medicine by subscribing to any journal that could be had on the subjects. Rebecca had happened upon the journals one day in the library and waded into them cautiously, keeping a wary eye out for her mother.

She had never been more enthralled by anything in her life.

Shockingly matter-of-fact debates regarding whether musket balls should be left in wounds if they could not be retrieved easily, the best methods of amputation, the uses of mercury, words like "laudable pus" and "trepanning"-the journals were both appallingly, titillatingly gory and strangely reassuring. Human beings were subject to a staggering array of illnesses and disasters, but the fact that learned men could discusses such things in dispassionate detail made human frailty seem less mystical and frightening and more a matter of course, of philosophy, essential to the pattern of life itself. Whenever Rebecca encountered a word or the name of a body part with which she was unfamiliar, she referred to her father's anatomy book, and thus inadvertently gave herself a very unorthodox education.

As a consequence, Rebecca nursed a secret desire-or rather a semisecret desire-to be a doctor. She had broached the subject once at the breakfast table, and in light of the spasm of pain that had crossed her mother's face and the condescending bark of laughter it had surprised from her father, she had thought it best not to bring it up again. However, the desire remained, and had only increased in poignancy, as is the habit of all secret desires. Thus, this newest threat of Lorelei's required momentous ammunition by way of counteraction, and she had prayed hard for the appropriate solution.

Rebecca's prayers had been answered in an almost comically swift fashion. Anthony, Baron Edelston, who was staying with the nearby family of Squire Denslowe, had effortlessly and instantly fascinated all the young women in the area simply by behaving toward them the way every young rake in London behaved: politely resigned to boredom, ever-so-slightly tragic and languid, a slight hint of danger glinting in his eyes as he lingered a little too long over the hand of some lucky maiden. Rebecca thought he was handsome but somewhat repulsive. Why on earth anyone found his air of boredom and tragedy captivating was beyond her ken.

However, Lorelei was poised on the brink of her first London season and had yet to meet a man like Edelston. Her careful reserve soon proved no match for Edelston's cultivated indifference. Edelston, indeed, behaved as though Lorelei's sort was as common as the dandelions that sprinkled the garden lawn, and Lorelei found herself actually exerting herself in an attempt to charm.

As exertion was unfamiliar territory for Lorelei, she was in over her head rather rapidly. One moment Edelston was coolly surveying the room full of overly cheerful provincials over the top of Lorelei's moonlight-colored head; in the next moment, he had dropped his voice to a fierce murmur, suggesting a tryst in the back garden at midnight the following night. Rebecca, surreptitiously moving through the room, heard her sister murmur a shocking acquiescence.

Because it would be ever so much more satisfying-and much more potent an arrow in her blackmail quiver-to actually catch her sister in the outrageous act of meeting a young man at midnight, Rebecca had decided to precede the pair to the garden. If the two of them didn't appear soon, however, Rebecca decided she would return the way she came, as catching a chill was becoming a real threat. She clapped her mittened hands together to warm them and gazed up at the stars sprinkling the sky, picking out constellations to pass the time.

Sir Henry Tremaine had rheumatism in his left knee. It had made itself at home there after a hunting accident a few years ago, and every now and again, particularly on chilly nights, it plagued him mercilessly. It was plaguing him tonight, and he had lain awake long enough. Careful not to disturb his sleeping wife, he slid out of bed, slipped into his robe, and lit a candle to light his way to the library, which was where he kept the brandy. From experience, he knew that a quickly bolted glass would muffle the pain long enough to allow him to sleep.

But halfway down the stairs, Sir Henry caught a glimpse of a pale head of hair and a swirl of dark skirts. Astonishingly, Lorelei appeared to be exiting the house through the kitchen. At midnight. In seeming deference to his shock, his throbbing knee went quiet. Sir Henry decided the brandy could wait. He stealthily followed his daughter outside.

Tom Jenkins, the Tremaines' gardener, was arriving home from The White Sow, the best place in the village for a glass of comfort and a relaxing chat with a large-busted barmaid, when he saw a dark figure dart across the back lawn. It was tall enough to be a man, and as he had only consumed two pints this evening-Tom liked his ale well enough, but he liked his job better-Tom was certain his eyes were not playing tricks on him. Thinking quickly, he armed himself with a spade from the toolshed, and cautiously glided across the frost-stiffened lawn toward the fountain, where the shadowy figure had disappeared.

Rebecca was deeply disappointed. It appeared that she had risked a great deal for naught, because no one had yet appeared near the fountain. She sighed and straightened her back, then stepped out from behind the hedge to return to the house.

Right into a pair of masculine arms. "There you are, my sweet. I feared you had changed your mind," said Lord Edelston in the same fierce murmur he had used to entice Lorelei here to begin with.


Excerpted from The Runaway Duke by Julie Anne Long Copyright © 2004 by Julie Anne Long. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Runaway Duke 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book for anyone who claims to love historical romances. It's always wonderful to find a brand new author at their first novel and find that they know their stuff. The book is about Rebecca Tremaine, a woman who gets caught in a compromising position with an insufferable man that was after her sister. Her family is going to force her to marry 'The Bore' and he claims he will 'most likely wish to beat her daily'. In comes the white knight in the form of Connor Riordan, the family groom who Rebecca has known since she was a child. He cannot stand the idea of someone as spirited and honest as Rebecca having to marry a man like Edelston ('The Bore') who will certainly crush her spirit. He agrees to help her runaway and that is when things begin to change between Rebecca and Connor. Connor, on this journey, is unable to hide his true identity, the Duke of Dunbrooke!!! And Rebecca is unable to continue to see Connor as her childhood friend and instead sees him as a man. The humor of Rebecca, a truly admirable heroine, gives the story a wonderful comic relief. She is an outspoken and inquisitive girl who tends to ask the most inappropriate questions that are always throwing our hero off track (we wouldn't want him always having the upper hand, now would we?). And to balance her out, we have Connor, who is about as sexy as hero's come and whether he is saving her from highwaymen or simply loving her for exactly who she is, you will love him. Add that with a vengeful mistress with much to lose, a jilted fiancé, and a band of gypsies with a jealous girl and you get the hilarious, but touching adventure of a lifetime for Connor and Rebecca. Along the way Ms. Long writes scenes of romance and love so sensuous and poignant that you can't help but feel the main characters love growing and turning into something that you can picture them having for the rest of their lives. This is a new author whose next book we will be purchasing on its release date and not a day later!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rebecca Tremaine is a curious, lively young girl who manages to get herself compromised by a handsome fop in search of a rich, disposable wife (she was trying to catch her sister in the midst of a midnight assignation with him, but her plan went horribly awry). Connor Riordan is the head groom in her father's stables -- and no one knows he is actaully the Duke of Dunbrooke, supposedly killed in battle at Waterloo. Connor never wanted the immense responsibility and gilded trappings of his birthright -- but when Rebecca comes to him for help, his past suddenly comes back for reckoning -- in the form of a blackmailing mistress and a mysterious locket. This book was simply wonderful. I could NOT put it down. The characters were so vivid and likable, even the villain, Edelston, and the villainess, Cordelia, as well as even the minor characters who show up along the way (I loved the gypsies!). The plot sweeps you along, with many surprising twists. And the love between Connor and Rebecca is so sweet and sexy, and almost blushingly real, the way it evolves. The writing is a cut above the usual romance fare -- Julie Anne Long is very skilled at description, and the dialogue is sharp and funny and realistic. I read a lot of romance, Stephanie Laurens in particular, and this is one of the best ones I've read in years. I didn't want it to end! I can't wait for her next book. HOpe this review helps anyone trying to decide to buy the book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1815 Waterloo, the chaos of death and destruction leads a wounded Englishman to mutter Roddy to the question who is he is. Everyone concludes he is Roddy Campbell while next to him is the dead future Duke Roarke Blackburn. Once he realized what happened, Roarke fails to correct anyone as he sees this as an avenue to escape from his abusive father. A year later, Roarke goes by the name of Connor Riordan, head groom for Sir Henry Tremaine.

In 1820, Lord Anthony Edelston arranges a tryst with Rebecca¿s sister Lorelei. Rebecca follows her sister outside, but Edelston accosts her with kisses just as Henry catches them together. Henry calmly tells Edelston that he now has a fiancée. Over the next week, Edelston visits and bores Rebecca with his trite poetry and conversation. Rebecca tells her confidant Connor that she cannot marry Edelston. He promises to help her escape though he knows that his peaceful five years of living ends with this pledge. As they flee to his aunt¿s home, Connor¿s past will make the trek dangerous for them, but love makes the trip also pleasant for the duo.

In her debut novel, Julie Anne Long provides Regency romance readers with two fantastic lead protagonists, but especially interesting is Connor, running from a past that ultimately catches up with him. The support cast provides depth to the story line particularly intriguing is The Rom (Gypsy) moral philosophy of theft. Though the climax seems too soft and the audience never learns what happens to a key tertiary villain, sub-genre fans will want to run away with this delightful pair.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book i have read from this author, it wont be the last! The story line is complex and funny at the same time. You are hooked from the very first page until the last. You will not regret investing time in this book,
LadyScarlet More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed other works by Ms. Long. Loved the hero but couldn't help feeling like the heroine was coming off a bit young and immature. The hero was such a strong intelligent man I didn't think she was his match. That being said, there were some great scenes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've just discovered this wonderful author. This is the third book I've read so far. She has a wonderful way with words, the story line and developing the characters. I've enjoyed each and every book. They are easy to read and a;ways make me smile. Thumbs up!!!!!
darjeeling44 More than 1 year ago
Julie Anne Long knows how to write. There's a reason I keep reading books in the romance genre. I am constantly on the hunt for a good love story, and I found one in The Runaway Duke. It has everything I could possibly want in a story: a fantastic hero whose complexity is believable (anyone else sick to death of reading stories about a hero whose only character trait is that he's been crossed in love before and is now wary of the emotion? Oy...), a plucky and likable heroine, a villain with whom you can sympathize (a tiny bit)... It's pretty fantastic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just could not put this book down. I was up until 1:30 in the morning so I could finish it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I've read by Julie Anne Long but it won't be the last! She blends humor, excellent pacing and an intriguing premise with characters who you'll quickly come to care about. They are intelligent and honest and adventurous and the kind of people you want to know! I stayed up late to finish this novel. I highly recommend this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a treasure! I read it straight through in one sitting and fell completely in love with the characters! I am not usually a fan of historically-set stories, but this one sure broke the mold! I gave it to a friend of mine to read when I was done, and she raves about it as well! Get your hands on a copy of this book as soon as possible--you'll love it (and Connor Riordan)!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a find! I read the RT review, and this book got a Top Pick. The plot sounded fun and different, so I decided to check it out, though I'm not crazy about all of RT's picks. But I LOVED this! ONe thing that really stands out is that Julie Anne Long has a gift for dialogue -- I swear, she should write screenplays! The story moves quickly and you just can't put the book down, and each scene is like a wonderful little surprise. The hero, Connor, is vivid and sexy, and Rebecca is adorable. I read several scenes with a lump in my throat while i was smiling. But mostly I smiled the whole way through this book. All in all, It's sweet, sexy and unique. The publisher did a good job of summarizing the plot up top, so I won't go into it.I'll just say, you won't regret buying this book, and I doubt you'll be able to put it down once you do! I hope she writes more.
RBCrump More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book. The characters were fun, had great chemistry, and just flat out loved each other! I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.
skelley55 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book.  The hero is wonderful, a nobleman in hiding after Waterloo and dealing with  his  emotions.  The heroine is very young and impetuous but isn't that what  this hero needs.  This is a good love story.
regencyromantic1 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It wasn't exceptional but none the less a good read.
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***** = 5 star......
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This is even better than the first Julie Anne Long book that I read. Her characters are very easy to love and are perfect for each other. Rebecca has spirit and a genuine personality that is hard to resist, and has no sense of her own beauty. Connor is at times seems selfish but is really just in denial about his place in life.
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